Monday, November 20, 2006

Kalacakra Millenarian Timeline (Article)

Kalacakra millenarian views of history and the future as found in Tibetan Buddhism center on three key dates. The first is the transmission of the Kalacakra doctrine to Sucandra by the Buddha. Historians tend to look at this as a legendary event.

According to Kalacakra tradition, Sucandra brought the Kalacakra system to Shambhala where it was passed on by seven kings of the Sakya dynasty in that country.

Then comes the next key date when the Kulika dynasty arises with the Rigden King Manjushrikiirti. One of the most noteworthy deeds of this first Kulika king was to merge the different castes into a single equal "vajra" caste.

Next, the Tibetan Calendar begins in 1027 CE when the Kalacakra system is brought to India and Tibet by either the 12th or 17th Kulika king according to different traditions. The texts state that the calendar starts 403 years after the leader of a people known as the Lalos institutes a new type of astrology. This takes us to the year 624 CE or about two years after the Hijra of the Islamic calendar.

25 Kulika kings

Kalacakra texts state that 25 Rigden kings will reign before an apocalyptic war that ushers in a new golden age. The antagonists are the Lalos, apparently a term for peoples who expand their religious systems through violence.

Each Rigden is given an approximate reign of 100 years, so the full period of the Kulika Dynasty is approximately 2500 years.

A period of 25 reigns of 100 years each can find some basis in the native mensuration systems found in the Philippines and also possibly more broadly in early Austronesian society.

Ifugao peoples retained a quinary (base 5) counting system that they used together with a base 10 system. The quantity of five was known as hongol. When counting base 5, after one reaches five sets of five, one must had a new word to a word number and a new digit to a numeral. Five fives or 25 is known in the Ifugao system as dalan.

Dalan is an interesting word that normally means "way, path, road." So after one counts five fives, the "way" of counting is finished and one starts over again. The imagery is linear although the counting is cyclic.

Remnants of base 5 counting can also be found among the Christianized Filipinos in the dry measure system where five gantas equal one pati, and five pati or 25 ganta equal one caban.

The number five is of importance in Philippine social systems also because most clan genealogies include five generations. These five generations are often visualized in the form of a human body.

Among the Kapampangans, the great-grandparent is known as apung qng tud "grandparent of the knee." The great-great-grandparent is known as apung qng talampacan "grandparent of the sole of the foot." The Tagalogs knew the great-grandchild as apo sa tuhod "grandchild of the knee" and the great-great-grandchild as apo sa talampakan "grandchild of the sole."

Ilocanos saw the present generation as likened to the waist area, while the two preceding generations were characterized as the shoulders and head, and the two successive generations as the knees and soles.

According to researchers, the Ifugao usually kept genealogies going back from 15 to 30 generations. It may be at one time, that it was common to keep at least 25 generations in memory i.e., one dalan or circuit of generations. Noble families may have kept longer genealogies as the Spanish mention the 'genealogies of gods,' which likely refers to the chiefly families tracing their alleged divine descent.

The dalan unit (also daan) in the indigenous decimal systems denotes a quantity of 100. There is some evidence that dalan also referred in early times to one's "path of life" to mean both the course and the duration. For example, the term dalan sa kinabuhi "path of life" in Sugbuanon.

Samosir Batak has the term dalan ngolu literally "path of life" but also meaning "field" to express an agricultural mode of living.

In Tongan, the cognate word hala can mean "death, especially that of the king," in the sense probably of death as the completion of life's path.

If the 100-year reigns of the Rigden Kings are viewed as decimal dalan, then a quinary dalan consisting of five "bodies" of five reigns each would equal 25 reigns lasting 2,500 years.

So, the Kulika Dynasty could be seen as a quinary dalan of decimal dalans.

Reincarnated ancestors

Some of them worshiped a certain bird, others the crocodile; for holding the same fancy regarding the transmigration of souls as was held by Pythagoras in his palingenesis, they believed that, after certain cycles of years, the souls of their forefathers were turned into crocodiles.

-- Pablo de Jesus Letter to Gregory XIII

De Jesus letter on beliefs of tranmigration in the Philippines rightly mentions the crocodile which was known as nunu and dapu "grandfather." The early Filipinos believed in the return of great heroes, for example, the culture-hero/god Lumauig was believed by Igorot peoples to one day return and restore the old order.

During revolutionary times, different peasant leaders claimed to be reincarnations of heroes like Jose Rizal or Father Jose Burgos. Felipe Salvador, who led a sectarian peasant revolt in Central Luzon, declared he was the second coming of Christ.

In addition to reincarnation, there was a belief in the inheriting of the spirit-double of -- or guidance by the spirit of -- a deceased ancestor. In Kapampangan this is known as mana ning kaladua.

The mid-17th century hermaphroditic priest Tapar of Panay, who wore the "garb of a woman," claimed that he was under the command of the nonos, the departed ancestors. He called himself "Eternal Father" and appointed among his followers persons known as the Son, Holy Ghost and "Maria Santisima."

Throughout Southeast Asia the belief that even a person of humble origins could acquire extraordinary powers and claim a special relationship with the supernatural could give rise to sudden eruptions of localized religious movements when prophecies, dreams, magic, amulets, claims of invulnerability and secret revelations provided a potent weaponry.

-- Nicholas Tarling, The Cambridge History of Southeast Asia

The "humble origins" mentioned by Nicholas Tarling above could also mask a submerged ancient lineage as in the prophecies of Ratu Adil and Satria Piningit "Hidden Warrior" in Indonesia. The rural messiah is also indicated by Hindu texts that declare Kalki would be born in a "village" known as Sambhala. Some Kalacakra traditions also claim that both the king and kingdom of Shambhala would be unknown initially to the Lalos, despite the latter having gained control of much of the earth.

Dual ages

If we look at the 2,500 period from the standpoint of the dualistic views held in the region, it would be logical that this period would have a dual counterpart age. Thus the two periods would be equal to 5,000 years.

Buddhist tradition does mention that the period of decline after the death of the Buddha would last 5,000 years consisting of five 1000 year periods. However, after the ordination of women, this period was cut in half to five 500 year periods equaling 2,500 years! We might view this from the dualism standpoint as indicating that the ordination of women allowed the cancellation of the female half of the period of decline. Chinese millenarian sects often saw two ages before the golden age. Among some of these sects, these ages were known as the Blue Sun and the Red Sun, indicating respectively yin and yang.

Some Kalacakra traditions also mention a 5,000 year period but in this case broken up into the 700-year Sakya Dynasty of Shambhala, the 2,500 year Kulika Dynasty, and a 1,800 year golden age after the final battle with the Lalos.

Concepts of generational time perceived in the form of a human body has other reflexes in the Philippine region. In the Tagalog language, for example, the words tao "people," katawan "body," and taon "year" are all derived from the same root. The Kapampangan word banua can mean "heaven" as a place inhabited by the gods, stars and planets, but originally from an early Austronesian word denoting a territory inhabited by people. Banua also means "year" in Kapampangan.

The Bisayan god Laon, was a god of time, and laon denotes the passage of time. He is often described with pantheistic traits as pervading all things or forming the substance of all things.

Aspects of genealogical and solar time were obviously important in the region, but it was also suggested previously that there were may have been some pragmatic reasons involved in the formation of the Kalacakra timeline. Muslim traders began establishing themselves increasingly along the eastern African coast progressively moving southward during the 10th century and threatening the spice trade of Shambhala (Suvarnadvipa). It was about in the late 10th century that we see evidence of propaganda efforts by Suvarnadvipa to draw other political entities into the fray.

Paul Kekai Manansala


Blair, Emma Helen, James Alexander Robertson, Edward and Gaylord Bourne. The Philippine Islands, 1493-1803;: explorations by early navigators, descriptions of the islands..., The A.H. Clark Company, 1903, vol. 36. p. 318; vol. 38, p. 218.

De Beuclair, Inez. Three genealogical stories from Botel Tobago: A contribution to the folklore of the Yami, ND, (Chinese Traditional Big5 encoding).

Conklin, Harold and Pugguwon Lupaih. Ethnographic Atals of Ifugao: a Study of Environment, and Society in Northern Luzon, Yale University Press, 1980, p. 11.